Coronavirus pummels Russia, daily cases hit new high

FILE PHOTO: Medical specialists wearing protective gear talk next to ambulances near the Aleksandrovskaya hospital, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Saint Petersburg, Russia October 9, 2020. REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia recorded a fresh record increase in daily coronavirus cases on Sunday, pushing the world’s fourth highest infection tally towards 1.3 million.

The coronavirus taskforce said it had recorded 13,634 new cases in the last 24 hours, including 4,501 in Moscow.

The capital city of nearly 13 million has been the hardest hit area. It has opened two temporary hospitals and ordered businesses to have at least 30% of staff working remotely.

“In a few months there will be a vaccine, which will allow people to be vaccinated on a large scale,” Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin was quoted as saying on Sunday by state media.

Russia in August became the first country to grant regulatory approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, doing so before large-scale trials were complete, to the concern of some in the global scientific community.

About 400 high-risk patients have received jabs, according to the health ministry, but the vaccine is not yet in general circulation.

“This story will end, but we have to get through it without losses,” added Sobyanin.

Russia’s Health Ministry last week recommended that people stay at home this weekend in the nation of about 145 million people that has now recorded 1,298,718 cases, behind only the United States, India and Brazil.

The coronavirus taskforce said on Sunday that 149 people had died overnight, pushing the death toll to 22,597.

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Gareth Jones and Andrew Cawthorne